Networking Tree

Networking. What kind of image does this word conjure up for you? If you’re like me, you probably imagine having to schmooze with higher-ups in suits at stuffy after work functions. Not exactly fun! Now before you break into a cold sweat, I’ll let you in on a little known secret, networking is actually not that hard or scary.

It’s all in your approach. Just think of each part of the process as corresponding to the growth of a tree. First, you need to plant your seed, take care and nurture your tree, then through persistence you will be reaping the fruits of your labours!

1. Research (planting the seed)

2. Cultivation (tending your tree)

3. Persistence (harvesting your leads)

Planting the seed

Think of research as the beginning stages of growth. Take for example the field of medical administration. If you are interested in getting into that field, you will need to research medical establishments then find the administrators or HR persons’ contact information at those companies. Once you have collected several contacts, you will need to make a cold-call. This is the hardest part of networking, but fear not most contacts will appreciate your efforts and may even be flattered that you view them as leaders in their field. When you are ready to call keep the following in mind:

Introduce yourself and explain why you are calling i.e. For advice regarding getting into the medical admin field. Make sure you are not interrupting your potential contact. If the person doesn’t have time ask when they may be available. Don’t push and always be respectful!
If they are available to talk, make sure you have some well-researched questions ready to ask. You are making an impression so make it positive!
If the conversation goes well and the contact is helpful thank them for their time. You can also send them an “official” thank you card or letter if you want.
Tending your networking tree

Now that your contact is no longer “cold” you’ll need to cultivate the relationship to keep it “hot.” This is accomplished through staying in touch. You need to remind your contacts that you are available and still looking for work. Do this through follow-up emails or calls for advice or answers to any follow-up questions you may have regarding the field. Be careful not to call too much…you don’t want to become bothersome!

Harvesting your leads

Contacts or leads may bear fruit through persistent cultivation. Even if a contact may not have job leads at their company, they may hear of positions opening up at other companies and let you know. When you have a positive relationship with your contact they may even be willing to be a reference person, which will prove very handy especially if you are a new grad or changing careers.

Whether your networking tree is a sapling or a mighty oak, it’s important to set aside your fears and start the growing process!

Elaine Logie is a recent graduate of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON. For more information on how MCACES helps students with Employment Advisement, please contact Lidia Siino, lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.

Cultivate your network and watch it grow!

Cultivate your network and watch it grow!

reading!

Are you a sugarplum, rum ball or candy cane?

Are you a sugarplum, rum ball or candy cane?

Are you a sugarplum, rum ball or candy cane?

I’ll admit, this post required a bit of research, first off I honestly didn’t know what sugarplums were, apparently they were a popular Christmas treat in 16th century England and are basically stewed plums in sugar cane cooked to gooey perfection…sounds pretty yummy! So now the big question, when job searching what are YOU most like? A sugarplum, rum ball or candy cane? It’s a question for the ages! Take this sweet questionnaire and find out:

1. Do thoughts of you keep dancing in an employer’s head long after an interview?

A) No, I just hang around and see what happens

B) Yes, I make sure I send a positive thank you card and follow up later

C) I’m not sure, I can’t remember!

2. Are you multifaceted and have many different colourful skills to offer?

A) Yes, I have many skills and I’m always looking to add more to my repertoire

B) No, I don’t have a lot of skills but what I have has stood the test of time

C) I have a sprinkling of skills here and there but only on the surface

3. When you’re not offered a job do you tend to stew about it or hook up with new opportunities?

A) I figure it just wasn’t the right fit and use the chance to catch the interviewers attention and ask how to improve my skills

B) Yes, I stew and think constantly about what happened

C) I just roll with the punches!

4. Do you leave your job search space a big ol’ sticky mess or do you make sure that everything is hanging in its proper place?

A) In my space everything has it’s spot. I use a job search and network-tracking sheet. You just never know when you might get a call for an interview!

B) Yeah I have papers everywhere but my memory is good and I can recall information when needed

C) I’m a bit messy but at least it’s all in one spot!

5. Are you able to fit into many different situations or are you relegated to only one type of environment?

A) Yes I’m adaptable and can move from site to site if needed

B) No I can only be in a specific place and don’t feel comfortable in situations outside my element

C) I’m adaptable and can roll from one thing to another within reason of course!

Well this is not exactly a scientific questionnaire, but if you answered mainly:

A) You’re a candy cane; you’re minty fresh and up for anything!

B) You’re a sugarplum baby! And although not exactly current or neat, you’ve stood the test of time

C) You’re a rum ball; you know how to keep your cool no matter what!

Elaine Logie is an Employment Advisor at the Career Foundation and infamous MCACESBlogger! Elaine has just completed her Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. Congratulations, Elaine! If you enjoy our MCACESBlogs, please spread some Christmas cheer and spread the news! Merry Christmas!

EEEEEK! Are you a scary Networker?!?!?!

Ever wonder how you come across to others while networking? Don’t you wish you could take a potion and become a network sorcerer or wizard, the likes of which has never been seen? Maybe a little eye of newt or wing of bat will do the trick? Well probably not…thankfully networking doesn’t require magic; just a few simple tricks to keep you from being one of the creatures that go bump in the night!

Frankenstein
Speaking of bumping …try not to network like you’re all thumbs and awkward to boot! So how do you avoid dropping your drink on a company CEO or inadvertently elbowing a server? If possible go to the event venue early before the crowds, look around, check out the guest list and then come back later. It helps to know your surroundings so you’ll feel more comfortable, plus nothings worse then not being able to find the washroom.

Mummy

What kind of scary networker are you?

What kind of scary networker are you?


You’ve finally got a chance to chat with an important contact, when suddenly the conversation starts to unravel, what do you do? Easy! Rise to the challenge and ask them about an upcoming trend in their field. You’ll show them you’re not ancient but on top of the latest information while gaining valuable insight into their opinions to better tailor your marketing strategy. Plus, everyone feels flattered when you take a genuine interest in his or her thoughts.

Vampire
Don’t suck the life out of a room! Pause between breathes and allow your other networkers to speak, it’s often in the pauses that “real” information can be gathered. Good listening skills show others that you have consideration for their ideas and opinions.

Zombie
It’s true that most people go to networking events to pick each other people’s brains but don’t go overboard and treat it like a buffet! Gently ask people questions, your not interrogating a helpless subject but sharing valuable information. Remember conversations are a two-way street, plus by sharing you’ll show others you’re not just out for yourself.

Ghost
Hey wallflower…yeah I’m talking to you! Try not to shrink away from the crowds and disappear into the scenery. If it helps take a friend, even if they aren’t really there to network they can offer some moral support… just don’t hang on them for dear life!

Now that you’ve tricked yourself into not focusing on the horrors of networking, the chances it’ll be a treat instead. Happy Halloween!

Elaine Logie is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College and MCACESBlogs blogger. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts, tips and musings for job seekers and their respective networks. Follow our blog and be less scared of the job search process. Happy reading! Happy Halloween!

The one thing you should be thankful for…

As the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, we lethargically dust ourselves off, find a forgiving pair of pants and go back to the daily grind of life.

What does your life entail? It could be a turkey pot pie of work, family, education, volunteering …and all of those layers in between.

We forge on, back to old habits, seemingly managing routines without giving conscious thought to who we’ve become, how we got there, and how the hell we’re going to fit back into our normal clothes.

If you’re reading this post, I encourage you to pause for a moment.

Pause, and give thanks to the MVPs within your network.

“How do I do that?”

Think about your accomplishments as well as your failures. Who has been there for you? For the wins? The losses? Both?

Your MVPS can be anyone–a sibling, an educator, supervisor, mentor or friend.

Give thanks to these key players in your life.

These are the people who believed in you long before you believed in yourself.

“What if it’s been a long time? I feel awkward!”

Know that taking quality time out of your chaos to acknowledge others is almost always welcome.

Expressing gratitude takes a minimal amount of time and hardly costs any money. And, by doing so, you are setting a fantastic example for your peers.

A phone call, email, text message, written note—in the time it takes you to heat up leftovers, you can thank a network MVP.

So, with that said, it’s time to practice what I’ve been preaching!

Twelve years ago to this day, two very special people took a chance on me. In spite of my protests, I began a job that many thought should not have been created in the first place.

From these two amazing women, I learned many things. Most important, I learned to the power of internal strength—the courage to stand up for what I felt strongly about, and the poise to do so with diplomacy.

Thank you for being my MVPs.

Without you, I’d be a turkey without any gravy or stuffing.

Lidia Siino’s background is in career development, communications, adult learning and facilitation. With a Diploma in Journalism and Certificates in Career Consultant, Workplace Leadership and Teaching the Adult Learner programs through Mohawk College, she enjoys teaching these topics to adult learners.
She has spent over 12 years as an Employment and Communications Specialist for MCACES, the Mohawk College Association of Continuing Education Students.
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Mentorship is a Two-Way Street

It’s a lot like asking someone to hire you because you need a job. What’s in it for them?!

It’s a lot like
asking someone to hire you because you need a job. What’s in it for them?!

Ask a highly successful person about important milestones on the path to a rewarding
career and he or she will most likely credit the influence and help of a mentor. We can all agree on the value of a mentor, but how to acquire one is not as obvious. Simply approaching a more senior professional that you respect and admire and asking him or her to be your mentor feels awkward and there’s a good reason for that. It’s a lot like asking someone to hire you because you need a job. What’s in it for them?!

From the outside, a mentor may seem akin to a fairy godmother who taps us with her
magic wand and transforms us into more successful versions of ourselves, never asking
for any favours in return. In reality, a true mentorship is much more of a partnership and the benefits have to go both ways.

To illustrate, imagine that you are just starting out in your career and you are being interviewed for internships by two different managers. One of them admits that he doesn’t have a project in mind for you just yet, but that he is happy to hire you anyway and is confident you will have a good learning experience just hanging out with the rest of his group. The other is very keen to hear that you have some of the skills she requires for a project already on the go. Her group is smaller and she really seems to need an extra pair of hands. She lays out what your contribution will be and you are surprised by the level of responsibility you will have. This is definitely not a “make work project”. Which position is more likely to result in a mentorship? !

While there are no guarantees that you will acquire a mentor at critical stages in your career, you can choose to work in environments where mentorships are more likely to flourish. A true mentor will have a vested interest in your success, usually because you are bringing something to the table which increases her chance of success. A two-way street. Win, win.

Caroline Burgess is an Educational Consultant and student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts aimed at assisting job seekers and those in career development. Like what you read? Be sure to share our info to your network. Happy reading!

How to survive your first day of work and live to talk about it!

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So you’ve just been hired, Congratulations! Now that the interview jitters are behind you, you’re probably eagerly anticipating your first day of work. No doubt, much like your first day of high school your mind is spinning as you try to envision every possible situation that could happen, both the good and the bad, during your first day on the job. Some questions you may be asking yourself are…

Do I have the right time and location?

Who will I be working with?

What will I be doing exactly?

Will I be able to do what’s expected of me?

Rest assured you’re not the only one who’s had questions on their first day! Just keep a few of these Do’s and Don’ts in mind

DO:

  1. Clarify the date, time, place and who you’ll meet and always arrive at least 10 minutes early.
  2. Find out if you need to bring specific info such as your SIN #, a blank cheque and/or photo ID.
  3. Know if you’ll need to wear any particular piece of clothing or equipment ahead of time. For example, steel-toed boots or black dress pants. As well, always bring a notepad and pen to write notes during training.
  4. Introduce yourself and smile when talking with supervisors and colleagues.
  5. Ask questions. If some of your skills are a bit out of date find out who could quickly get you up to speed. Flatter them into sharing by considering the importance of their knowledge.
  6. If you have some extra time on your hands offer to help out co-workers. You do have to be a bit careful because you don’t want to step on any toes so tread lightly!
  7. Turn off your electronic devices during working hours.

DON’T 

  1. Assume they already have all the information needed to complete your hiring paperwork.
  2. Pretend you know something you really don’t especially with regards to safety! It will backfire at a later point and you may be called out for it.
  3. Get too familiar with your new co-workers; you want to be social but first understand office politics before you end-up in a group with a “bad” reputation.
  4. Be too casual in your dress and behavior. It’s easier to dress down later once you’re more aware of the workplace culture.

For more info:

The first of two articles on Monster.ca covers tips to keep in mind for your first day on the job, while the second article covers proper dress attire for both office and retail environments. http://career-advice.monster.ca/In-the-Workplace/Starting-a-New-Job/how-to-survive-your-first-day-on-the-job/article.aspx & http://career-advice.monster.ca/In-the-Workplace/Starting-a-New-Job/dresscode-when-working-in-retail-ca/article.aspx

 This article by David Roos covers 10 easy to remember tips for your first day on the job, such as planning your commute and knowing when to listen and when to speak. http://money.howstuffworks.com/business/starting-a-job/10-tips-for-your-first-day-of-work.htm#page=10

Freaky Friday!

In the last few posts I’ve touched upon the use of body language and perception. Basically, how your verbal message should match your physical mannerisms. What I didn’t get into was how to use your body (and voice) to convey the strongest and most compelling message possible to employers.

If you think about it, it’s not just about how you carry yourself but how you use all aspects of communication to present your ideas. With so many great online talks from TED to INCITE, it’s easier then ever to watch and study the best speakers to get ideas. Great presentations are really both an art and a science and despite what many people think, IT CAN BE LEARNED!

When you’re networking or in an interview, you are basically presenting yourself, so in that context think of the following:

  • The “story” you want to tell (goal)
  • What you want the audience to get out of it (aim)
  • Why they should care
  • Keep it short and to the point (the average listener can only focus for 15 minutes at a time)
  • Speak with passion!

For more info, check out Steven Knight’s 4 part Linkedin series:

How to produce and deliver a winning presentation

Present with power: voice and body language

Why passion and facial expression matter

Your voice is the key to your success

If you really want to delve into improving your presentation skills, here are two books I would recommend on the subject:

Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun

How to deliver a great TED talk by Akash Karia

Happy Friday!

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